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NZ's disabled community 'disempowered', suffer human rights violations – report

A new report has found that New Zealand's disabled community is suffering the most from a range of human rights violations.

Releasing the figures today, the Human Rights Measurement Initiative has tracked how 170 countries are doing. New Zealand ranks well in some areas, but for people with disabilities their rights to an education, housing, health and employment is at particular risk.

Disability Connect board chairwoman Colleen Brown told TVNZ1's Breakfast the findings are "totally unacceptable".

"Parent's are still having to fight to get their children into schools and that in this day and age is totally unacceptable," she said.

But it's housing that is a "critical" area in which disabled Kiwis face challenges, she says.

With New Zealand already in a housing crisis, it meant disabled people looking for somewhere to live were just "joining the back of the queue".

"When you can't get housing and you can't get a job and you suffer through your education, well yes, you are disempowered and the whole family becomes disempowered as well," she said. 

"I think we have a long way to go to actually address those issues, particularly the housing one...You want a landlord that is going to be there, and consistent, and giving you a fair rental and an appropriate dwelling to live in - we don't have that."

Ms Brown's own son, who has Down syndrome, wanted to move out of home after seeing his siblings move out and go flatting, but the 38-year-old faced challenged doing so.

"He chose his flatmates and off he went, but it was hard, it was really difficult finding a place for him to go flatting," Ms Brown recalled. "It was an attitude thing about people not understanding what intellectual disability means and so you had to go through that whole process of getting around those barriers."

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Disability Connect board chairwoman Colleen Brown talks about the findings on TVNZ1’s Breakfast. Source: Breakfast